love

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Let’s face it. This past year has been…the worst. The closures, job losses, and personal losses; many of which are still going on a year later, have made us all edgy, irritable, and even depressed. Many people are still in a place where social distancing is the norm. For my family, Thanksgiving was cancelled, because my husband, Bob and I had Covid-19. Then Christmas was delayed 24 days, because my daughter, Corrie Petersen and her husband Kevin had Covid-19. Kevin got it the worst, as his system is compromised, but after a week in the hospital, he is home and doing very well. We lost out on so much in 2020, and now we are back to almost normal.

Valentine’s Day is a little bit different holiday, since it is mostly about couples, but since Bob and I prefer not to go to a restaurant on Valentine’s Day, because of the crowds, we are going to be staying home, but its not going to be just us. This year, our family is a little bit battered, because we have lost one of the members of the couples…my sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg. That leaves her husband, my brother-in-law, Ron and their son, Tucker in a very different place than they expected. We decided to ease them into the coming year, that will be inevitably hard, by having a small group Valentine’s Day gathering. There will be five of us, Bob, Ron, Tucker, my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg, and me. Unfortunately, it will be a sad time, because Rachel won’t be with us, but the reality is that it’s about love, and we love Ron and Tucker. We want to help them move forward, and I know that Rachel would be pleased that her guys aren’t alone on this difficult day. We aren’t the only family that is living with battle scars. There are so many families that have lost someone or have someone in the hospital. There are many people who cannot be with their loved ones today. Some have to work, and some live far away too. There are some in my family in that place, and while that feels sad for some of us, they are in the place they need to be.

Today is not supposed to be a sad day, but sometimes that is just the way it is. Nevertheless, we also have reasons to be happy. Family, friends, hope, and love, are all a part of our futures now too. Rachel is in Heaven, but she, along with all of our other loved ones are happy, and they are in our future now. This is a day to rejoice too. There are blessings that come with this day. Wedding anniversaries, like that of my niece Lindsay Moore and her husband Shannon, who’s daughter Hallie was born and went to Heaven on December 19, 2020 can be sad, but they are still celebrating, because they have been together for 7 years now and they will see Hallie Joy again soon. She lives in their future now, not their past. It’s about love, and Hallie would want them to go forward. For me, the main this is that we never forget those we love.

Of course, many of us celebrate this day because we love our own sweethearts. We are all blessed with loved ones, partners, spouses, or other family members. There is really no greater emotion than love. I don’t know how any of us would survive without it. This world can be cruel, and it is love that balances it out for us. So today, we celebrate, even if life has left us a little sad. Because, it is really all about love.

My uncle, George Hushman was “gone” on my aunt, Evelyn Byer from the moment he met her. You can’t blame him, because she was a beautiful woman. Once they were together, not much else mattered. They would have been as happy living in a shack in the slums, as they would have living in a palace. In reality, they lived in a beautiful, modest home, that they built themselves…or at least helped build. I’m sure that a contractor was involved too. I remember that house well. Uncle George would have given Aunt Evelyn the moon if he could have. Like many young couples, there were love notes. I happen to see on as I was helping to scan the family pictures. It was not long, but it was very sweet. Uncle George wrote, “Dear Evelyn, I love you very much. Be home suddenly. Love, Your Hubby.” It was a simple gesture, but the “suddenly” part is what caught my attention. It implied that he would really hurry home, and he couldn’t wait to see her. That was the kind of love they had.

My sisters and I spent many fun filled days there hanging out with the Hushman kids, Susie, George, Shelley, Shannon, and Greg. Aunt Evelyn and our mom, Collene (Byer) Spencer, were very close, so naturally, the two families spent lots of time together. Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George were fun-loving people. They had so much in common with my parents, and they were as much friends as relatives. For many years they were on a bowling league together, went on date nights together, and spent lots of time at each others house. There is a lot to be said for good friends, and when that good friend is also family, there is a surety that the friendship will last a lifetime…and so it did.

As the years went by, the foursome grew older, and even though they still loved each other very much, they couldn’t get together as much as they used to. It was a disappointment for all of them. Before long they were going home to Heaven…one by one. That is what made all of us the most sad. Uncle George was the last one to go home, and we were very sorry to see him go, because it was truly the end of an era. The foursome was gone now, and there would be no more of their dates, bowling, or their antics…which we all saw from time to time. It was really a sad time. Today would have been Uncle George’s 94th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle George. We love and miss you very much.

I have never traveled to what is supposed to be one of the most romantic cities in the world…Venice, in Italy, but like most people, I find the city, and especially the buildings to be very beautiful. The bridges in the city are especially beautiful, but some may be very misunderstood…as it turns out. One such “misunderstood” bridge is the Bridge of Sighs. This bridge cannot easily be visited on foot because it is a part of a government prison facility built on the waves near the harbor of the city, but is easily accessible via boats that are constantly flowing under it.

The Bridge of Sighs was built in the 17th century. It is a fully enclosed bridge made of white limestone, and its beauty has caught the attention of many, including the famous English nobleman and poet Lord Byron who told in one of his poems in the 19th century, about the bridge being the last point where condemned prisoners could see the beautiful city of Venice before they were brought to their executioner. That description is very different from the one that is more accepted by tourists, and possibly the tourism industry, who have portrayed it as the sighs of lovers, rather than the sighs of the condemned.

What many tourists, and possible some of the citizens don’t realize is that even centuries after it was built, Bridge of Sighs is still the part of the same prison complex that connects the main building of New Prison (Prigioni Nuove), to the nearby interrogation rooms located in the Doge’s Palace. Of course, the bridge is no longer used in the capacity of transport of maximum security prisoners, but is instead used by small-time offenders who are residing in this low-security prison. The fame of the bridge as the final point of the freedom of the prisoners may have come from the early history of Venice, when its prison was the place of summary executions and where inquisitions were indeed practiced…well before the bridge was ever built.

The Bridge of Sighs was built over the Rio di Palazzo between 1600 and 1603 by the instructions of the architect Antonio Contin, nephew of famous Antonio da Ponte who also designed one of the most popular bridges in all of Venice…the Rialto Bridge. Antonio Contin designed this 11 meters long bridge to have a single arch, detailed and stylish outdoor decorations made from Istrian stone, and two windows barred with white stone bars on both sides of the walking chamber. These days, the only way to personally visit the Bridge of Sighs is to take part of “Secret Itinerary” (Itinerari Segreti) tour that is organized by the Doge Palace. The tour is only held between June and September and lasts around 90 minutes, it is done only in Italian and includes visiting of the several famous parts of the prison, such as its antique cells, torture chambers, other rooms, and of course, the Bridge of Sighs, as well. It is much easier to see the famous bridge from the water below, but you would not get to see the inside, of course.

Time flies by so fast. It seems completely impossible that 25 years could have passed since the day my daughter, Amy Royce and her husband, Travis said “I do” and began their life together. So much has changed since those days. Their children, Shai and Caalab are all grown up, and they have added Caalab’s girlfriend, Chloe Foster, to the family. The raised their children here is Casper, Wyoming, and then after Caalab’s high school graduation, the family moved to Bellingham, Washington. The area where they live is beautiful, and the weather is mild, which suits their family, especially Amy, who never liked our cold winters.

I am always amazed when a couple reaches a big milestone anniversary, even though my own marriage has endured, as have those of both my girls, and many other people I know. Still, I am amazed, because as we all know, marriage is not for the faint of heart. It takes work, endurance, stubbornness, and is best handled with prayer. It also takes a knowledge of the kind of person you are, and the kind of person you want to spend your life with. At such a young age, I wonder how it is that anyone can have any idea of who they are or who they want to be with, but it seems to me that more people are staying together these days than they were when I was a kid. Amy and Travis are two of the kind of people who knew that their spouse would be someone they could love forever, and they knew it at a very young age. They are so compatible, and they work together as a team. The ups and downs of life did not deter them from reaching the goal of “together forever!” Their home is filled with love, laughter, and harmony. They have chosen their spouse well, and I couldn’t be happier for them as they reach this milestone day…their Silver Anniversary.

I know that the next 25 years will be for them, as sweet as the first 25 years have been. Their love is real and lasting. They surround themselves with beauty and love, and that makes their life peaceful and sweet. God has richly blessed their union, and will continue to do so for the rest of their lives. Yes, time flies by so fast, and before we know it, 25 years have flown by…as if we weren’t looking, somehow. Our children are grown and have children of their own. They are off living their own lives and all I can think is how proud I am of them. They are successful, and in a lasting marriage. The make a great living, and have a beautiful home, where Travis loves to mow and care for the yard, and Amy loves to grow beautiful flowers to brighten their days. It is a home filled with their own special love. Today is Amy and Travis’ 25th wedding anniversary. Happy Silver Wedding Anniversary Amy and Travis!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

As kids, my sisters and I probably took our parents for granted, but when we look at how hard they worked to make life great for us, it almost brings tears to my eyes. My parents, Al and Collene Spencer worked very hard to give us a good life. They made sure that we got to take vacations…always wanting to make sure we saw this great nation we live in. And it wasn’t just the vacations. It was the kind of home they made for us. No matter what, we always knew that we were all equally loved. We knew that love had nothing to do with whether or not we made mistakes, or even if we got into trouble. In those days, children were spanked to teach proper manners. I know that many people these days disagree with that type discipline, but it was the era we lived in. In those days, children knew that if the neighbor told you to quit tearing something up, you had better quit. There was a measure of respect for our elders and those in authority. I miss that in our world today. Although, I live in a neighborhood, where most of the kids are respectful. We are blessed to live where we do.

Mom and Dad met through her sister, Virginia Beadle, and my mom told me that it was love at first sight. She said that she tole herself that he was the most handsome man she had ever seen. Mom was still a school girl, but as soon as she could, she and Dad were married. Dad was older than mom by twelve years, a common thing in those days. He had fought in World War II, and was ready to settle down and have a family. They married and moved to Superior, Wisconsin as part of their honeymoon. My older sister, Cheryl Masterson arrived ten months after their marriage, and their family was started. I followed almost two years later, and we moved to Casper, Wyoming a couple of years later. Caryl Reed followed three years after me, Alena Stevens two years after Caryl, and Allyn Hadlock two years after Alena. Our family was complete. Dad was always outnumbered, but his girls were his little princesses. He was always patient, understanding of the needs of girls…understanding girls was a necessity for Dad.

Mom and Dad were together for 54 years of marriage before Dad’s passing on December 12, 2007. Mom followed Dad on February 22, 2015, and now they are together again in Heaven. I’m sure they are enjoying Heaven and being together again. We miss them, but I can’t wish them back here. They would be horrified at what our world has become. Instead, we will go to join them someday, because Heaven is wonderful and we will all be happy together again, when we join them there. Today would have been Mom and Dad’s 67th Wedding Anniversary. Happy anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad. We love and miss you very much.

February 14th…a day set aside to celebrate love. There are so many ways to show you love someone. From our very earliest days, we get valentines from our parents, classmates, and even teachers. We learn that this day is different from any other holiday. It’s all about making people happy…and in turn, it comes back around to us.

Some people like to remain anonymous, like the child who put a valentine in our mailbox. The valentine was not signed, nor was it addressed to us, it was simply placed in our mailbox, unseen, when we were not home. It was such a sweet gesture, and it really touched our hearts. The kids in our neighborhood seem to have an extra-strong level of kindness in their DNA, and I find that very sweet. It’s not the first time they have done nice things for the neighborhood. Recently, we caught someone being nice, when we heard a noise on our porch, and looked to see a neighborhood child out shoveling the snow from the neighborhood sidewalks. They didn’t want recognition or money, they just wanted to be nice…and they succeeded in doing just that.

Some people like to show their love for someone by making Valentine’s Day extra special forever. They marry on that day, like my niece Lindsay Moore and her husband, Shannon did six years ago. Now every year, is a special Valentine’s Day for them. Many people would agree that Valentine’s Day is a very cool wedding day, while others prefer to keep the two days separate. My husband and I fall into the latter category, having married two weeks after Valentine’s Day. Either way, they are special days to show your love for your spouse.

If you ask me, these days there is nothing better than showing love for people. Everyone needs to feel loved, and we all have times when we don’t feel loved. Sometimes we just need a hug. Show a little love to those around you today. Happy Valentine’s Day!!

My uncle, George Hushman entered life in a troubled situation, and in the end, it was destined to get worse. His mother passed away when he was very young, and his dad was not involved or interested in his children’s lives or welfare. Uncle George and his sister, Betty were placed in an orphanage. They would not be one of the few older children to get adopted, because as most of us know, adoptive parents prefer babies. That might seem like the end of a sad story, but it isn’t. While George was not adopted “officially,” he did have families who “adopted” him in many ways. Wallace and Hettie Saint John, who were my future son-in-law, Kevin Petersen’s great grandparents, were very good to Uncle George, who was friends with their sons. The treated him like one of the family.

Then, of course, there was the Byer family, into which Uncle George would marry, making him my Uncle George when he married my aunt, Evelyn Byer. This was the point when Uncle Georges life took its most amazing turn. Upon their meeting, my aunt and uncle only had eyes for each other. Their world was suddenly filled with all of God’s greatest blessings. Their marriage would produce five beautiful children, Sheila “Susie” Young, George Byer, Shelley Campbell, Shannon Limmer, and Greg Hushman. They also went on to have many grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren. Theirs was a match made in Heaven. They were happy, and they were together as much as it was possible. Their marriage would endure the hardships and sadness that every marriage does, and it thrived. Anyone who knew them could see their great happiness. At the time of Aunt Evelyn’s passing on May 4, 2015, they had been married for 68 years. That is almost unheard of!! When Uncle George joined her in Heaven, they had been married 71 years, and they were reunited on Uncle George’s 92nd birthday. What a wonderful birthday present. Their eyes got to see each other once more, their hearts were reunited. I’m sure Uncle George was ecstatic!!

Uncle George was a quiet sort of man, but always kind. I always loved going over to their home, because we were always treated kindly by them both. They had built their house in Mills, Wyoming, in 1948, with the help of family. They loved their home, and unlike most couples, they would live in that same home for the rest of their lives. Most couples look around some before settling on their forever home. Others moves several times before really finding one that suits them. Not Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George. The knew what they wanted, and they never waivered. Theirs was a sweet forever home, where the couple that lived there were forever in love. Happy birthday in Heaven Uncle George. We love and miss you very much.

When two people get married, everyone wonders how their lives will turn out. More than wondering if they will stay together is the question of will they make a good team? Or will they always seem to be going in the same direction? These are all things that no one knows at the point that a couple gets married. Those question and many others will be answered when the couple has been married a number of years.

Our youngest daughter, Amy Royce and her husband, Tavis have stood the test of time, and after 24 years of marriage, I can say that the do make a good team, and they are usually going in the same direction…except during football season, when he roots for the Chicago Bears, and she for the Green Bay Packers. Still, more important than that is the genuine desire to give each other the best life possible. Their motto is “Live, Laugh, Love,” and they do just that.

They love living in northern Washington state, and spending lots of time outdoors. Sitting around their firepit is a common evening event, as is playing a variety of games with their grown children, Shai and Caalab, and their significant others, Jordan Chapman and Chloe Foster. They like playing Beer Pong, darts, and Corn Hole, but recently they bought a pool table, which will be lots of fun with the onset of cooler weather. Of course, north-west Washington state doesn’t see the same kind of cold weather that we get in Wyoming, but that doesn’t stop it from feeling like it’s freezing, even when it’s just rain. That said, those indoor activities will be essential.

It really doesn’t matter what Amy and Travis are doing, as long as they are doing it together, because they love each other very much. I can’t imagine two people more suited to each other than these two. As a parent, it is wonderful to know that the man your daughter shares her life with is so good to her, and makes her life a joyous occasion every day. He makes her laugh at his silly jokes, and always lets her know that she is the love of his life. She, in turn, completes him in every way, and lets him know that he is the love of her life. Does life get better than that? I don’t think so. Today is Amy and Travis’ 24th anniversary. Happy Anniversary Amy and Travis!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

Thinking of my parents, Allen and Collene Spencer on their 66th wedding anniversary, the first thought that comes to mind is that it has been so very long since I’ve seen them. I wonder how the years could have gone by so fast. My dad has been in Heaven since 2007, and my mom since 2015. It seems like forever…probably because we have missed them every day since they have been gone. That’s how it goes with your parents, I think. While they are gone from this Earth, they are never gone from the hearts of the children who love them. They gave you life, nurtured you through your childhood years, and then let you spread you wings and fly free. They didn’t stifle your dreams, even if it meant that your were far away from them. That is the love of parents.

My own parents were all that and more for my four sisters and me. They were our rock, grounding us with their teachings and their faith in God. We always knew that no matter what happened or what mistakes we might make, they were there for us. They always had the answers we needed to resolve any situation. We would always view our lives as perfect. It didn’t matter what we might face later in their lives, or what they might need from us, we would always be there for them, just as they were for us. In fact, we never expected that they would need help from us. They seemed invincible. I suppose that is what made it so hard to face the day they went to Heaven. The knowledge that the world as we knew it would never be the same for us again, stunned us to our very core. It had not occurred to us that we would live on this Earth without parents, even if it should have. Still, once again, their teachings sustained us and, just as they knew we would, we were able to move forward in our lives. They had raised us to become independent women, after all. They knew that we would step up and become the new matriarchs of the family, bring the next generation forward to their own independence, so they could, in turn, raise their children to that level and so on. That was still part of the love of parents for their children.

Our parents showed us how to work at life. They knew that nothing in life is guaranteed, but with hard work, you can succeed in most areas of your life. Our parents showed us that being married isn’t always roses and candy, but when you had a loving, solid marriage, it was always rewarding. Their years together, though cut short when Dad passed away in 2007, were filled with love and stability. The married years they spent on this Earth were 53 years, but while people are not married in Heaven, they will always love each other. Today would have been my parents 66th wedding anniversary. I know they are enjoying time together in Heaven, and it is a joyous day. Happy 66th anniversary in Heaven, Mom and Dad!! We love and miss you very much, and we will see you in the future.

Since both of my dads, Al Spencer (my dad) and Walt Schulenberg (my father-in-law) are in Heaven now, I don’t have a dad on Earth to celebrate with, but my husband, Bob Schulenberg is still with us…eight months after suffering a heart attack, and receiving miracle care and a miracle healing, and for that, my family and I rejoice and praise God, every day. This year could have been very different, and yet God stepped in and made a way for us. That is my biggest reason to celebrate this Father’s Day. Every day beyond October 14, 2018, is a gift. A precious gift from God. So to my husband, I wish a very special Father’s Day. I am so thankful that you are still with us.

The example my dad and my father-in-law set for their children is one of kindness and love. It is an example that we all try to follow, because they were both great family leaders. They were hard working, and took care of their families so that they never wanted for anything. Having a great dad is not automatic…unfortunately. As the saying goes, “Any man can be a father, but it takes someone very special to be a dad.” It takes someone very special to be there through thick and thin…when their children are being good and when they are being bad. Children need to know that no matter what mistakes they make, their parents will always love and support them as they work through life’s ups and downs. Growing up is hard, and we don’t always make that journey smoothly. It is a road often filled with big rock and pot holes. We stumble along, and if there is no one there to pick us up and put us back on out feet, things don’t always go very well. I am so thankful for my two dads, who were good dads to me and my siblings, and well as Bob and his siblings. I firmly believe that it was because of them that Bob and I became the parents we are.

I also feel very blessed that my daughters, Corrie and Amy have been blessed with the wonderful husbands they have. Kevin and Travis are the kid of dads I would have wanted for my girls and their children, if I could have picked. Thankfully, God chose these men for my girls, and I an very proud of the families they have raised. Their homes are filled with love and much laughter, as well and encouragement and forgiveness. Their children know that their parents are there for them, no matter what. Now the next generation are coming into the age to have kids, beginning with Corrie and Kevin’s son, Chris, who is taking the lessons he learned from his parents, and applying them to his own daughter. Chris is a great dad, and I know that he will raise great kids. Happy Father’s Day to my guys, and all the dads out there!!

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